Borussia Dortmund have stormed back to the top of the Bundesliga for one night at least. BVB kicked off Matchday 23 by beating Leipzig 2-1 (2-0) in the top match on Friday evening.

Boris Rupert reporting

The 81,365 spectators at a sold-out SIGNAL IDUNA PARK saw an exciting top match in which BVB increasingly relied on counter-attacks and took a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Reus (21) and Can (39). Leipzig applied pressure and reduced the lead to 2-1 via Forsberg in the 74th minute, but a mix of luck and passion saw BVB seal the next three points.

The scenario:   
Second versus fourth. The Westphalians went into the game four points ahead of the Saxons. The previous six meetings in Dortmund had produced three BVB wins, one draw and two triumphs for Leipzig. The Black & Yellows were unbeaten in eight Bundesliga home games (seven wins, one draw), while Leipzig were undefeated in seven matches on the road.

Personnel matters:   
Borussia were without Kobel at late notice (muscular problems) as well as Adeyemi (torn muscle fibres), Moukoko (partial tear of the syndesmosis ligament), Malen (knock to the ankle), Duranville and Morey (both fitness training). There were three changes to the starting XI that won away in Hoffenheim last weekend, with Ryerson and Özcan replacing Guerreiro and Bynoe-Gittens outfield and Meyer coming in for Kobel between the sticks.

BVB took to the field in a 4-3-3 formation in which Brandt and Reus were level with centre-forward Haller and transitioned to a 4-1-4-1 off the ball. Can played between the lines as per usual but dropped even deeper – between the centre-backs – during build-up play. The roles in the Leipzig rearguard were clearly assigned, with a back four protected by the holding midfield duo of Schlager and Haidara. But the four attacking players were given “free rein” with Nkunku and Silva for the most part forming the strike partnership in a 4-2-2-2 formation for the visitors, who pressed very intensively and put BVB under pressure high up the pitch. But that also opened up spaces which the Black & Yellows exploited with long balls – resulting in two “goals” in the first half: Brandt’s disallowed opener and the prelude to the penalty.


The match & analysis:
Meyer was put to the test for the first time after four minutes, the goalie gathering Szoboszlai’s powerful strike at the second attempt. Leipzig were marginally in the ascendancy in the opening 15 minutes of a highly intense match and recorded the first three shots, with Nkunku firing the most promising of them well wide from 12 metres out (7). Two visiting players were issued early bookings (Nkunku and Haidara).

BVB gained a better foothold in the game around the quarter-hour mark. Bellingham lofted a ball from just behind the halfway line into the path of Brandt, whose control and touch were (almost) perfect – as was the shot, but the goal did not count as the ball temporarily grazed his lower arm on the way down (13). Unfortunately, it was the correct call.

Another long ball – this time from Wolf – picked out Brandt five minutes later, the midfielder surging into the penalty area from the right only for Gvardiol to clear behind for a corner at the last moment. But the weighting had been calibrated. In the 20th minute, Wolf played another 40-metre pass to Reus, who rounded goalkeeper Blaswich and was brought down. Reus stepped up to take the penalty and converted coolly with a shot into the bottom left corner (21).


Leipzig came back into the game before the break, but spurned a great chance to level the scores when Halstenberg missed from close range (35) – and then conceded again. The move started with another long ball. Brandt was brought down by Halstenberg down the right flank and he took the resultant free-kick, which Szoboszlai did not clear properly. Can ran onto the ball 18 metres from goal and did not hesitate, firing a bouncing effort towards the bottom left corner of the goal; Blaswich did get to it but it ended up in the back of the net via the underside of the bar for 2-0 (39).

Leipzig dominated possession throughout the second period. BVB defended passionately and initially allowed nothing other than a curling effort from Silva which flew narrowly wide of the upright (48), but they increasingly lost control over the match. It was only in the 67th minute that the Black & Yellows had another chance to score – a very good one – when Reus’ effort from 13 metres was clawed away from the corner by Blaswich. Meyer denied Silva the chance to pull a goal back at the other end seconds later, but Forsberg made amends in the 74th minute. Simakan played the ball from the right towards Schlager in the middle, who chipped it over to Raum on the left of the box. The full-back’s low cross across the face of goal was then tapped over the line at the back post by Forsberg.

BVB brought on Hummels in the closing stages and switched to a 5-4-1 formation (82). Leipzig went down to 10 men in the final minutes after Schlager was forced off with an injury, but remained on the front foot and created two big chances to score via Werner and Forsberg, only for Schlotterbeck (90+4) and Meyer (90+5) to come to the rescue.

The team will fly to London on Monday to play the return leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie against Chelsea, which will kick off at 21:00 German time on Tuesday. That will be followed by the 160th Ruhr derby next Saturday. Kick-off in Gelsenkirchen will be at 18:30 CET.

Teams & goals


Bundesliga Matchday 23

Bor. Dortmund: Meyer – Wolf, Süle, Schlotterbeck, Ryerson – Can – Bellingham, Özcan (Dahoud, 82) – Brandt (Hummels, 82), Haller (Modeste, 73), Reus (Bynoe-Gittens, 73)
Rasenballsport Leipzig: Blaswich – Henrichs, Orban (Simakan, 71), Gvardiol, Halstenberg (Raum, 61)  – Haidara (Kampl, 84), Schlager – Szoboszlai, Forsberg – Silva (Poulsen, 71), Nkunku (Werner, 84)
Substitutes: Reyna, Guerreiro, Meunier, Passlack – Nyland, Klostermann, Clark 
Goals: 1-0 Reus (penalty awarded for foul on Reus by Blaswich, 21), 2-0 Can (39)
Corners: 4-6 (3-1 at half-time), chance ratio: 5-8 (4-2)
Referee: Jablonski (Bremen), yellow cards: Özcan, Brandt – Nkunku, Haidara, Halstenberg, Silva, Henrichs
Attendance: 81,365 (sold-out), weather: dry, 3 degrees